Australia, or Down Under, remains one of the fondest memories of my 20s. But every time I recount my memories, I can’t help but notice all the misconceptions people have about this country. So let me introduce you to the reality of life in “Oz”.

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1. Spiders & bugs aren’t as common as you might think

Lizard in Australia
Cute little lizard, isn’t he?

This is probably THE main reason why people don’t want to travel to Australia: fear of encountering scary, poisonous animals. At least, that’s what most of the travelers and friends I’ve asked have told me.

But the reality is quite different! You’ll meet more dead animals on the road than snakes and giant spiders in your daily life.

The only time I really encountered “exotic” animals was on my trip to the Outback (see my post on the subject here), and even then, they were all harmless. Rest assured, it’s pretty rare to come across deadly species.

2. You can enjoy summer all year round

For a summer lover like me, this is the ideal country to live in. If you choose the region well, your winter will be as cold as 24°C, so there’s no need to wear layers or bring your big winter coat. During the “winter” I spent in Brisbane, I only wore a thin jacket and a scarf for the coldest, windiest days. Pretty nice, isn’t it?

3. The “no worries” way of life

It was already a culture shock when I landed in Australia because I really think there’s a huge gap between the way Australians and French live, so every day I discovered and experienced new things. I even ended up adopting some of their habits, as I sometimes do after visiting or living in a country for a while.

No worries in Australia

First of all, Australians will say “no worries” after you say thank you. As soon as I heard it, and after observing the behavior of the locals in their daily lives, I don’t know, but it made so much sense to me. This common expression covers so many situations. I feel that these two words really express the relaxed, stress-free atmosphere of life in Australia, and maybe that’s why some people say it’s become the motto of the place!

4. Get ready for Aussie’s slang

Whatever your level of English, I guarantee that the way you speak in Australia is different. If you know the Scottish accent, let’s just say you won’t be disappointed by the Australian one either. More than once, you’ll wonder what your friend asked you, or simply stare blankly at people.

And to make things even more complicated, in addition to the unique accent, you also have to take slang into account. “Arvo” (afternoon), “mozzie” (mosquito), “barbie” (not the doll, but the barbecue) are just a few of the words you’re likely to hear one of your friends utter at one time or another.

But don’t worry, even if you’re completely lost and don’t understand half the words, you can always count on the kindness of Aussies!

5. Australians do love their Barbies

Oz
Camping Barbie

Now, I’m not talking about the famous Barbie doll of our childhood. I’m talking about another doll, the one where people gather and eat together, namely the barbecue, or barbie in Australian slang.

This is another cultural aspect I love about this country. You’ll find barbecues literally everywhere, whether in a park or on many Australian beaches. When you get to know the locals and witness their conviviality, it’s not surprising that the barbecue is a symbol for Australians.

It’s synonymous with sharing and tradition. Besides, who wouldn’t want to include it in their lifestyle when you can enjoy this sunny weather all year round?!

6. Kangaroos are everywhere

Kangaroo sign in Australia

When you start seeing road signs with kangaroos, it can only mean one thing: there’s a reason why the country’s symbol is actually the marsupial. Although I didn’t see any boxing kangaroos, I did see a lot of them jumping around in the streets (in fact, on the road above) and unfortunately also on the roadsides.

However, it’s important to keep a safe distance from them. Generally harmless, they can, to protect their little Joeys (baby kangaroos) or if they feel threatened, become quite aggressive like all other animals in these situations.

7. Australia is a safe country

Once again, aside from the fear of rare but venomous animals, the country is known for being one of the safest places in the world. The crime rate is low, and the warm, relaxed attitude of its people makes it an ideal destination for solo travelers.

As always, keep in mind a few basic safety rules when traveling and follow the marked trails when hiking, especially in the Outback. Oh, and it goes without saying, don’t touch or approach unknown animals if you encounter any.

8. Always check the inside of your shoes

In fact, that was the first piece of advice an Australian friend gave me at the start of my adventure. And I soon found out why. Fear not, I didn’t find the deadly funnel web spider inside one of my shoes, just a small insect.

Nevertheless, and especially depending on where you live (e.g. in a more remote area), you should always check and shake your shoes before putting them on to avoid unpleasant surprises.

9. The coffee & brunch culture is strong in Oz

Coffee time in Australia

I’m quite serious when I say that coffee is important to Australians. You can try to say that it is for you too, but for them, I’d say it tends towards the obsessive, at least slightly. They value quality over quantity and take the time to enjoy their coffee at any time of day.

Their favorite: the flat white, made with steamed milk and espresso. Oh, and beware of the latte comparison – it’s not the same thing, although I wouldn’t know. I’m not really a coffee drinker…, however, their taste is different and maybe that’s why I enjoyed it too.

Don’t like coffee? Don’t worry, brunch culture is also an important part of everyday Australian life. Remember, it’s all about sharing and getting together with loved ones over a good meal, even more so at the weekend. In fact, there’s even a city in Australia famous for both cultures: Melbourne. So many cute cafés and restaurants to satisfy your every craving!

10. A sporting nation

If you think Australia is a stress-free environment where people like to sunbathe and go out at night, you’re right my friend. But that’s without counting all the sports you can play. I’m pretty sure that sunshine and good weather are also important factors.

Generally speaking, Australians are crazy about fitness. I’ve never seen so many people jogging or doing all kinds of sports so early in the morning. But it’s not just about being healthy, they also enjoy it and it’s another way of being part of a community.

I’d say sport is like barbie and coffee in Australia, it’s deeply rooted in their culture and plays an important role in their daily lives.

What other experiences have you had in Australia? Do you have any advice for future travelers? Don’t hesitate to share your opinions in the comments!

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14 Comments

  1. I’ve always wanted to visit Australia and these are great tips! Definitely a little scary to have to check your shoes, but I appreciate you noting that there are fewer bugs than you might think. 🙂 I’ve been to New Zealand and became obsessed with their flat whites so I would love to go to Australia and experience their brunch culture as well.

    1. Yes, as long as you’re not camping in one of the remote areas, you’ll not really encounter a lot of “scary” animals. Thanks for taking the time to comment Christine!

  2. Great post! I have worried about the spiders! This is a bucket list trip for me. Thank you for the great information.

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